Neither the BJP nor the government has sought to defend V K Singh, choosing to focus on damage control instead. In fact, there is growing unease in the ruling dispensation over the “mixing of personal agenda” which is deflecting attention from the government’s opening act in Parliament.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley was understood to have had a word with V K Singh Tuesday. In Parliament Wednesday, Jaitley chose not to defend Singh’s controversial tweets in a clear indication that the government is distancing itself from his remarks against Lt Gen Dalbir Singh.
While the new dispensation was reported to be unaware of the contents of the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Defence in the Supreme Court Monday, sources said Jaitley chose not to seek an explanation as the top party leadership wanted to put an end to the prolonged and contentious debate over the appointment of the next Army chief.
Sources said the affidavit was prepared by former solicitor general Mohan Parasaran during the “transition period”, when the Modi government was in the process of appointing new law officers.
“How can we defend a minister who attacks the next Army chief? The UPA government played with institutions… We are here to restore credibility, not damage it further,” said a minister. Another minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is upset about the controversy, and “V K Singh may soon hear from him”.
“You must not politicise the Army” was the common refrain of ministers as they sought to distance themselves from V K Singh’s remarks.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s defence of V K Singh Wednesday did not go down well with the party leadership either. “We have a minister targeting the next Army chief and a party leader coming to his defence without taking any brief from the leadership. As if there is any dearth of self-appointed advisers to the Prime Minister,” said a senior BJP leader.
The prevalent view in the government, however, is that there is no need to term V K Singh’s action against Dalbir Singh “illegal” and “premeditated”. “But the affidavit had been prepared by those used to the UPA mindset on this issue,” said a government functionary.